When Yankees general manager Brian Cashman low-balled star slugger Aaron Judge this past off-season on a big contract extension, he likely didn’t imagine he would have one of the best seasons of any player in Major League Baseball.
Judge has been a bit inconsistent in the past due to injury, but after playing in 148 games last year and showcasing stellar health this season, Cashman is likely quivering in his boots. Judge turned down a seven-year deal worth $30.5 million per season in hopes of getting an even bigger contract. At this point in time, the veteran slugger looks like his wish will be fulfilled.
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The Yankees are finding new ways to build upon Judge’s production:
The Yankees have utilized Judge in multiple different ways this year to expand on his talents. Traditionally, he featured in the right field position and batted 2nd in the order. So far, management has transitioned him to centerfield for a large portion of the season and have given him lead-off duties on multiple occasions.
Judge has spent 226.2 innings in right field and 203 in center, a pretty even split. He has a perfect fielding percentage in both spots but showcased his ability to track down fly-balls and make diving catches in center — this is necessary when covering so much ground.
AARON JUDGE LAYS OUT AND MAKES THE DIVING CATCH ?
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 11, 2022
The biggest concern was that Judge would suffer injuries displaying too much effort in center, similar to Giancarlo Stanton and his dwindling role as a defender.
The 30-year-old outfielder has alleviated those injury concerns thanks to Eric Cressey and the teams improved physical fitness team.
The leadoff spot:
One of the more interesting gold mines the Yankees have tapped into recently is Judge’s ability to dominate as a leadoff hitter. His sample size is small but his numbers are magnificent. Over 13 at-bats batting first, Judge has recorded four hits, three homers, six RBIs, and two walks. He hosts .308 average with a 35.3% on base rate and 1.353 OPS.
Insanely, batting second, Judge has 62 hits, 21 homers, 42 RBIs, and is hitting .318 over 195 at-bats. His nearly 40% on base rate and 1.087 OPS is one of the best lines in baseball. In other words, Judge is gearing up for the payday of a lifetime if he can maintain this pace.
Over 57 games, he features 24 homers already, well on his way to surpassing the 60 benchmark, which would blow his previous record of 52 out of the water.
What’s even more impressive is Judge’s efficiency with runners in scoring position. When a runner is at first base, Judge is hitting .319. With runners at first and second, he’s hitting .543 with two homers and nine RBIs.
Another interesting stat is Aaron’s success during night games this season. Over 138 at-bats during night games, Judge is hitting .326 with a 39.4% OBP, 45 hits and 17 homers.
After the 6th inning, Judge becomes a menace in the batter’s box. He features a batting average of above .300 in each inning. In the 8th, Judge is his most dangerous, hitting .393 over 28 at bats this season, including four homers and nine RBIs.
Overall, the Yankees have gotten him involved in a number of different ways to extrapolate on his strengths. We’ve seen him feature in the outfield and as a lead-off hitter this season, which is unusual based on his usage in the past. Nonetheless, he’s proven to be more than capable of dominating at any OF spot or batting slot the Yankees toss him into.